Retailers report sales jump in June, says trade body – BBC News
UK sales last month rose at their fastest pace for two years, the British Retail Consortium says.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption
Shoppers queued outside Primark when it reopened on 15 June
Demand for home comforts and remote working equipment helped retailers see their biggest monthly sales jump in more than two years in June.
The joint British Retail Consortium-KPMG monitor reported total UK sales up 3.4%, against a 1.6% fall in June 2019.
It was the sharpest monthly rise since May 2018, with computing, furniture and home improvement doing well.
Online sales jumped, and the re-opening of shops released pent-up demand, but the BRC said the crisis continues.
The report said June’s growth was the first since lockdown and far outstrips the average decline of 6.4% over the previous three months.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Despite footfall still being well below pre-coronavirus levels, average spend was up as consumers made the most of their occasional shopping trips.
“Computing, furniture and home improvement all continued to do well as the public invested in home comforts and remote working,” she said.
Food sales were also strong, but clothing, footwear and health and beauty saw notable falls in sales, Ms Dickinson said.
Although a month of growth was welcome news, she said, further government action to boost consumer demand was needed, along with help to ease shops’ rent burden. “Or, the industry could suffer thousands of avoidable job losses.”
Retailers have already shed vast numbers of jobs, with Boots and John Lewis announcing a total of 5,300 cuts last week.
In June, UK retail sales increased 10.9% on a like-for-like basis from June 2019, although there was significant distortion. Like-for-like was measured excluding temporary closures, but including online sales. So, the like-for-like figure was driven primarily by online sales.
Over the three months to June, food sales increased 7.3% on a like-for-like basis as supermarket sales remained strong. Meanwhile, non-food sales in stores for items such as clothing were 46.8% lower for the quarter.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Fashion sales haven’t rebounded quite as impressively though, despite reports of increased interest from those prepared to queue to enter stores.
“Online sales – while still in a high gear – are cooling a little as High Street activity picks up again slowly and cautiously.”
The tentative signs of life on the High Street were underlined in footfall figures on Monday. Data from retail experts Springboard revealed that footfall across UK shopping destinations fell by 56.6% in June compared to the same month in 2019.
However, the organisation said this reflected “green shoots” of improvement in the sector as it increased from a 73.3% year-on-year decline in May.
Ryanair flight destined for Dublin forced to make emergency landing at UK airport after ‘security alert’ – Belfast Live
Flight FR1902 was headed to Dublin Airport from Krakow in Poland
A Ryanair plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the UK on Monday after a note claimed there were explosives on board.
The plane began descending over the UK at around 6:30pm this evening after declaring an emergency over the North Sea, Dublin Live reports.
After putting out a distress call, the flight was rerouted and picked up by two Royal Air Force fighter jets, a pair of Eurofighter Typhoons, as it came in.
Flight FR1902 was headed to Dublin from Krakow in Poland.
The flight destined for Dublin Airport was forced to land at Stansted Airport at around 6:40pm.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “A Ryanair flight from Krakow to Dublin this evening discovered a note in one of the toilets claiming that there were explosives on board.
“The captain followed procedure by alerting the UK authorities and diverted to the nearest airport (Stansted) where the plane landed normally, but was taxied to a remote stand where passengers disembarked safely.
“The aircraft and passengers are being checked by the UK police who will decide when they may travel onwards to Dublin on a spare aircraft.
“Passengers in Dublin waiting to depart to Krakow are being transferred to a spare aircraft to minimise any delay to their flight.
“Ryanair apologises sincerely for the delay and inconvenience caused to those affected by this diversion”.
Nationwide offers 90% mortgages to first-time buyers – BBC News
The UK’s biggest building society had pulled first-time buyer deals over concerns over falling prices.
Image copyrightPA Media
The Nationwide will lower the minimum deposit it requires from first-time buyers to 10% from 20 July.
The UK’s largest building society had restricted its mortgages in June in response to the coronavirus crisis.
But Henry Jordan, director of mortgages, said “we feel it is the right time to enhance our lending”.
It follows the government’s announcement of a temporary stamp duty holiday for people in England and Northern Ireland.
Homebuyers will pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of their purchase under the tax break, which will last until 31 March.
Amid signs that the UK housing market is picking up, the Nationwide will offer an unlimited number of 90% loan-to-value mortgages to first-time buyers.
Since June, only customers with 15% deposit had been able to apply for mortgages with the firm.
So, for example, if a property costs £100,000, a new buyer would now need a £10,000 deposit rather than a £15,000 deposit.
Henry Jordan, director of mortgages at Nationwide Building Society, said: “First-time buyers are vital to breathing life into the housing market and economy. We understand one of the biggest barriers to home ownership is raising a deposit.”
He added: “While we will continue to monitor the market carefully, we feel it is the right time to enhance our lending, initially to those looking for their first home. We welcome the government’s announcement on stamp duty and hope our combined changes create a positive impact on a market that, despite being in relatively good health, is still recovering.”
The new mortgages on offer will only be available for buying houses which are at least two years old. The maximum mortgage term will be 25 years.
The choice of low deposit mortgages has been particularly badly hit during the coronavirus crisis.
In March, there were 779 mortgage deals for borrowers with a 10% deposit. By the start of July there were just 70 products available, according to analysis from financial information website moneyfacts.co.uk.
Miles Shipside, commercial director at Rightmove, seemed hopeful that the housing market should start to recover in the coming months.
“There’s been record demand for property on Rightmove since the market reopened which has been boosted even further by the stamp duty announcement, all of which should help activity levels over the coming months,” he said.
According to the Nationwide, UK house prices were 0.1% lower in June than the same month a year ago – the first annual fall since December 2012.
Sales plummeted and viewings halted when the sector was effectively frozen under lockdown.
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